Letters / Governor Abercrombie alienated many of the leaders of the Democratic Party with his decision to appoint Brian Schatz to Hawaii’s vacant Senate seat formerly held by the late Dan Inouye. But he did so in favor of the long term interests of our state.
Seniority accounts for a lot in the Senate, and Hawaii has a history of re-electing its U.S. Senators. Senator Inouye’s power, which he used to benefit Hawaii, arose largely from the seniority he built up through decades of being re-elected. Inouye was first elected to the Senate at age 39, where he served for nearly 50 years. Colleen Hanabusa had been the leading candidate to fill Inouye’s seat, but she is 61. If Abercrombie had appointed her, in 30 years her political career would probably already have been ended. Schatz is only 40, and in 30 years he will be only 70, and would likely still have years to go.
Of course, no one knows how effective Schatz will be as a U.S. Senator, or whether he would be elected even once. However, at his relatively young age he has already won four elections to the State House, as well as a statewide election as Lt. Governor. So he understands politics.
Abercrombie knows what it takes to be effective on Capitol Hill, having himself served in Congress for 20 years. He has worked closely with Schatz for the last two years. He understands ramifications of his decision, and he has made a wise one.
John Kawamoto Kaimuki, HI